With the fate of both the title as well as the relegation teams sealed in the last week itself, the fixtures of the last day were still crucial in deciding Italy’s representatives in Europe.
Udinese who took on Milan late on Sunday night needed just a point at home to secure their fourth position in the table and with that book a place for themselves in the play off for the Champions League for the next season. Both the teams played end to end football in the first half but with only quarter of an hour left in the match, things really started to get interesting. Sanchez was brought down in the box by Seedorf which resulted in a penalty being awarded to the home team. But unfortunately for the hosts, Di Natale, league’s top scorer for two years running now failed to convert the spot kick and Amelia produced a wonderful save. Udinese, again, came agonizing close to score the opener in the next couple of minutes only to be denied by the high flying Milan keeper Amelia who was fielded in only his fourth game of the season.
Luck was on the side of the champions as Amelia was beaten all ends up by a Pinzi’s scorcher from thirty yards, which somehow managed to go past the goal line after taking a deflection from first the crossbar and then the upright. Meanwhile Milan bid adieu to their legend Pirlo by holding onto a goalless draw which helped them in maintaining the best away record in Serie A this season. Although it was not a dream farewell for Andrea Pirlo as he was not introduced on the pitch by Allegri in the course of the match; much to the disappointment of the Rossoneri fans. With this result, Udinese make it to the elite European competition after a long wait of six years.
Lazio, who were fighting for the elusive last Champions league spot, picked up a 4-2 win over Lecce who were a man down for most of the second half to finish tied at 66 points with Udinese but failed to make it to Champions League due to an inferior goal difference with Udinese.
Strikes from Totti, Vucinic and Borriello handed Roma a 3-1 win over the already relegated Sampdoria. The visitors took the lead through Mannini half way into the first half before the Roman side brought back some sanity to the proceedings. With Juventus failing to emerge victorious at Turin against Napoli, this result paves way to Europa league for the roman rivals Lazio as well as A.S. Roma.
Inter ended their season on a winning note at home after getting the better of Catania by three goals to one. Pazzini had set up the match for the Nerazzurri by scoring either side of half-time with Nagatomo further piling on the pressure on Diego Simeone’s men with his 63rd minute strike. Simeone, a former Inter and Argentine midfielder received a warm reception from Inter fans at the Giuseppe Meazza upon his arrival at the dug out before the match. Ledesma got one back for Catania within two minutes of Inter’s third goal which would turn out to be the last goal of the match.
Inter end the season as runners-up; six points adrift from their rivals A.C. Milan.
Palermo did their Coppa Italia preparations no good after they were beaten convincingly by Chievo at home. Palermo take on Inter in the final of Coppa Italia and the defeat to ‘The Flying Donkeys’ is bound to demoralize them before Sunday’s big finale.
THT Game of the week: Juventus v/s Napoli
Juventus took on the side from Naples on the last day of the league knowing that a win against Napoli coupled with a Roma defeat, would provide them with a possibility of qualifying for the Europa League next season. It did not start well for the Turin-based club, with Napoli going ahead in the twenty second minute with the header from Maggio. Juventus equalized in the very first minute of the second half after their defender Chiellini netted in the goal from a very acute angle.
Walter Mazzarri’s men, who are already guaranteed a place in next year’s Champions League after a long wait of 21 years, remained calm and composed in spite of constant pressure being exerted from Del Piero and Toni and regained the lead in the 70th minute through Lucarelli’s precise header. Although Matri’s goal pegged back the scoreline to level terms just seven minutes from the final whistle, Juventus were only able to muster a yet draw at home as a result of which Juventus failed to claim a birth in the Europa League for the upcoming season.
Del Neri who was in his last game in charge at Turin would have hoped to have left on a winning note, which would have still not helped their cause as Roma had come from behind to secure a 3-1 win over Sampdoria to take the last place in Europa League.
THT Star of the week: Francesco Grandolfo (Bari)
Already relegated Bari bowed out of Serie A in style as they thumped Bologna by four goals to nil which included a hat trick from their 18 year old debutant Grandolfo. Howeverm the goalkeepers from both the clubs did well to keep the opposition strikers at bay in the initial stages, before Grandolfo opened the scoring couple of minutes before the half hour mark which opened the floodgates.
The youngster carried his first half form in the second period as well and netted his and team’s second in the beginning of the second half itself. Within the next ten minutes, the teenager completed his hat trick to mark a dream debut in Serie A.
Bari’s Norwegian forward Huseklepp scored the fourth one for the visitors in the 78th minute but the debutant had put the match’s result beyond any doubt in the first fifty five minutes itself.
This performance of Grandolfo is bound to attract a lot of big names and the fact that Bari has gotten relegated to Serie B will not help their cause at all. Expect a lot of top clubs gunning for the signature of this young Italain come next summer mercato.
THT flop of the week: Massimo Volta (Sampdoria)
After shockingly getting relegated to Serie B last week, pride was all Sampdoria was playing for as they took on Roma at the Olimpico stadium on Sunday night. It was the visitors that brought some life into the match after a dull start with Mannini giving Sampdoria the lead in the 26th minute. Their forwards were trying their level best to bow out with some respect but their defenders were just not up to the task on Sunday evening. The backline of the visitors looked totally out of sorts and especially Volta looked anything but a defender last night. His positioning in the match cannot be termed anything less than appalling.
He should thank his stars after the referee failed to book him for a deliberate handball from a Vucinic shot inside the box. How his foul on Vucinic went unnoticed could only be answered by the referee L.Banti as Roma were denied a legitimate penalty.
If these are the signs what fans can expect from Sampdoria then it must be said that the Serie B will prove to be a tough cookie for the Genoa based club.
THT goal of the week: (Vargas) Fiorentina v/s Brescia
Bologna 0-4 Bari
Brescia 2-2 Fiorentina
Genoa 3-2 Cesena
Inter 3-1 Catania
Cagliari 1-1 Parma
Palermo 1-3 Chievo
Lecce 2-4 Lazio
Juventus 2-2 Napoli
AS Roma 3-1 Sampdoria
Udinese 0-0 Milan
End of season facts:
- Milan lifted their 18th Scudetto after a long wait of 7 years.
- Inter enjoyed the best home record with 15 wins and a total of 48 points from a maximum of 57.
- With eleven wins and six draws Milan finished with the best away record in the league and also with the highest goal difference (+41).
- Di Natale was named the Capocannoniere for seasons running (2009-10 and 2010-11). The last player who had this distinction was Giuseppe Signori of Lazio in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
- Francesco Grandolfo of Bari became the youngest player in Serie A history to score a hat trick on debut.
- Sampdoria got relegated to Serie B after a gap of 8 years. Other two teams who join them in Serie B are Brescia and Bari.